Monday, April 29, 2013

James and the Violin and Pete Moon


If you weren't around on Sunday you'll have missed the video the team produced, based on the construction of a violin, about how the trials in our life can produce something of great value and worth. Even if you were around it's worth watching again - you should be able to see it above, but if not follow this link. You can also catch up on the sermon here.

In addition to that Pete Moon re-recorded his preach from a couple of weeks ago (for some reason the recording didn't work the first time round). You can catch up on that here - it's very powerful so please listen to it if you missed it first time round.

I want to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers, who week after week upload all the sermons and videos to the website or the rest of us to enjoy - they are all heroes!

Simon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sandhurst Venue

I'm not sure I've ever experienced a busier week than the one I've just had! Delivering training, being trained, speaking on Alpha, meeting our wonderful children's work team, leading a prayer meeting, helping plan the preaching series from September to December, helping plan our Christmas programme, spending time with Matt Barlow and Russ Kline, lots of other meetings as well as planning my preach for Sunday (which I'm really excited about). I love what I do, although I am also looking forward to having a day of rest on Saturday :-)

All of this activity was great, but probably the high point was confirming that we've got a venue for our Sandhurst site. We've felt for a while that Sandhurst School would be the ideal meeting place for us, both in terms of location and the quality of their facilities. Well this week I had a meeting with the Governors on Monday, and the Headteacher on Thursday, after which they've agreed to us meeting there from the 15th September. They are so positive about partnering with us, and I'm praying that from this we'll develop a great relationship with the school and be a real blessing to them.

Please join me in thanking God for answering this prayer for us, and for all that it will allow us to do in the Sandhurst area.

Hope to see you on Sunday,

Simon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

James and the Giant Peach

This Sunday we start a new 4 week series, looking at four different themes in the book of James. We start by looking at how to deal with the different trials we all face - something which I know will be relevant to all of us at many points in our lives.

James, the author of this book, was the half brother of Jesus and one of the key leaders in the early church in Jerusalem. James is thought to have been written before AD48, and may well have been the earliest New Testament book. It is a wonderfully practical book, encouraging us to have a faith which changes the way we live. In terms of it's style it is similar to the book of Proverbs, containing a series of 'wise sayings'. It was written to Jewish believers everywhere, rather than being written to a specific church. James was martyred for his faith in AD62.

In advance of the series I'd really encourage you to find time to read the whole of the book - it will do you good! It's only five chapters long so won't take you long. Then when you've read the whole book spend some time focussing on James 1:2-8 which is what we'll take a look at on Sunday. I've included it below to make it as easy as possible!

Please be there on Sunday if you possibly can, expecting God to speak to you in whatever trial you're facing.

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:2-8 NIV)

 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Assume the Best About Others

I've noticed an interesting thing about myself. When I mess up, when I get something wrong or let someone down, I want them to assume the best possible motives for my actions. But when others mess up, I often attach the worst possible motives to their actions.

So if I'm late for a meeting I want others to assume that it was because something really important came up which delayed me, or that I got caught in traffic which I could do nothing about. In fact that's the conversation which is going on in my head as I walk into the meeting, "if you only knew what has happened to me you'd fully understand why I'm late".

Yet when someone else is late to my meeting, I often assume it's because they just couldn't be bothered, because they're a bad person, or worst of all because they've got something against me or what I'm trying to achieve, and want to make that very obvious to everyone else involved.

I do the same over loads of other things. If I tell someone I'll get back to them, but don't manage to, I hope they realise that it's because I was just so busy. But when someone else does the same to me, I assume it's because they don't like me or don't care.

I'm wondering if you're the same? And I'm wondering what life would look like if in that gap, in that space where somebody has let me down but I don't know why, I assumed the best possible thing about that person rather than the worst. If I treated them in the same way I want them to treat me. To react as though there was a very good reason for what they've just done, rather than a very bad one. I think that the conversation I have in my head about the people around me would be very different. And I suspect that even when the best I assumed about them turns out not to be true, I'd still be in a much better place to resolve the resulting conflict, having set out to think the best about them rather than the worst.

I think that was some of what Jesus was getting at when he said "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets". (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

So is there someone today you need to assume the best about. A friend, a boss, a partner, a son or daughter, a parent. Why not have a go at treating them like you'd like them to treat you, and see what God will do with your relationship.

Simon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dr. Philip Lee TMTL Cancellation

Sadly Dr. Philip Lee, the Bracknell MP who was due to be the speaker at TMTL tomorrow (Thursday), has had to cancel as the Whips have called him in for government business (sounds painful to me!). He has promised to come back in the future when he's free - watch this space!

TMTL will still be meeting as normal.

Hope to catch you at the prayer meeting tonight :-)

Simon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Gift Days

A huge thank you to everyone who has given to our April 'Giving to Grow' Gift Days.

As of last Friday the total with gift aid was £30,200. That is just brilliant, and means that included in with the March gift day we now have £63,800, which is over 20% of the way to the overall target of £310,000 - praise God!

The money we've got in already will allow us to pay the deposit and legal fees on the college house, pay off a number of interest free loans, begin to redevelop the main office and Spurgeon room for LIFE unleashed (what was J-Gen) and years 5-6 on a Sunday, do the work on the Brook Lounge so this can be used by parents with babies on a Sunday, and have over £6,000 of tithe to give away locally and overseas. And that's only the beginning of all that we hope to do this year with the remainder of the gift day money as it comes in.

I know that more money has been given since last Friday so I'll have an updated figure this Sunday. I'll also talk about where the first of the tithe money will be going - all very exciting.

If you still want to give to the April gift day then you can either do it online, or put it into the regular Sunday offering in one of the envelopes with "Gift Day" written on it.

Thanks again to everyone who gave, and to Christ who is our inspiration for all our generosity!

Simon.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April Prayer Meetings

Last September Catrina and I took the decision to join the gym at Bracknell Sports Centre. I was seriously unfit, and starting to develop a growing 'spare tyre' around my middle, neither of which I was very happy about. Since then we've been going three times a week, and the progress although gradual has been quite remarkable. If I'm honest I never want to go, but I know that the discipline has done me a huge amount of good, losing over a stone in weight and managing to get all the way round the Reading Half Marathon last month.

Sometimes I feel that prayer is a bit like that. If I'm honest I can always think of something else I could be doing, or would rather be doing, but I know that when I'm disciplined in prayer my whole life is different, and that things which seemed impossible suddenly become possibilities. I therefore want to strongly encourage all of us to make it to the church prayer meetings this week. I can't promise you'll lose weight (although if you fast as well you might!), but I can promise you that you'll open yourself up to meeting with God and seeing supernatural breakthrough in your life.

A group of us will be meeting from 7-8pm in K2 to pray for all of our Social Justice ministries. Then from 8-9pm I'll be leading us as we pray for the wider church. There are quite a few bits of information I want to share which we can pray about and thank God for, and a number of decision we face as a community which I'd love us to ask for God's wisdom on. Some of this stuff I probably won't share in any other context, so please be there if you possibly can. We'll also find time to pray for one another.

We also restart the finance prayer meeting on Thursday this week, 6-7am in the Kerith Centre, where we pray not only for money but also for more and more people to get saved through Kerith. I know that the handful of us who gather there every week to pray have seen amazing breakthroughs, both personally and for the church. I for one really dislike getting up at that time in the morning, but I know that the discipline does me good and that I always come away from it glad that I made the effort.

If you need a breakthrough in your life, or long to see God do even more in us as a community, please join us to pray on Wednesday or Thursday. Hope to see you there!

Simon.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Meet Dr. Philip Lee

Bill and Ann Dick, who are part of the leadership team of TMTL, our group for the retired in our community, have asked me to pass on an invite to come and hear the Bracknell MP Dr. Philip Lee speak next Thursday. These are the details they asked me to pass on:

TMTL is privileged to have our local MP, Dr. Philip Lee, to speak to us on Thursday 18th April about his work as a Member of Parliament. The title of the talk is “A Week in the Life of....” and it should be most interesting. He will be arriving at approximately 1.45 p.m. and will be speaking for about forty minutes to give time for questions and answers.

Everyone is warmly invited to join us and avail yourself of the opportunity to find out more about the working life of an MP. If you wish to join us at 1 pm in K2 we normally bring our own picnic-style lunch with tea, coffee and biscuits provided. The programme begins at 1.30 p.m. with fifteen minutes of worship.

I have a lot of time for Philip and the energy he brings to all he is doing for our community. In particular he has some very clear ideas around how healthcare in our area should move ahead. I'd love as many as possible to come along and hear him speak, regardless of whether you're retired or not, so that you can get to know him better and he can hear from us and some of the concerns and the questions we may have as a community.

Let's also be praying for him, and speaking well of and honouring him, for all he does amongst us.

Simon.

 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another Great Sunday Coming Up

I wasn't in church last Sunday, but I've heard so many great things about the preaches from Pete Moon, Zoe Hayes and Andy Partington - sadly the recording of Pete's message went wrong (I'm hoping we'll get him to re-record it) but I've been catching up on the podcasts of Zoe and Andy - very inspiring.

This Sunday we've got another treat in store. In the morning our very own Sola Osinoiki is speaking. I love what Sola brings to our community, not only his prophetic gifting and his ability to connect with people and bring Godly input and encouragement, but also his ability to think strategically which perhaps fewer people would see but which is proving vital as we continually restructure to cope with the numerical growth and ministry expansion we are experiencing.

Then in the evening Ben Cooley from Hope for Justice is going to be with us. The goal of Hope for Justice is to see the end of human trafficking and slavery in the UK in our generation. Ben is a leader with incredible passion for achieving that, and I'm sure you'll be inspired by what he has to say.

It was also a Gift Day last Sunday - I'm really looking forward to letting you know what the total was this Sunday.

Hope to see you on Sunday.

Simon.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Praying for Rick & Kay Warren

Many of you will have heard the tragic news that Matthew Warren, the 27 year old son of Rick and Kay Warren, took his life last week after a struggle with depression which started when he was a young boy. I've never met Rick Warren (although I've been deeply influenced by his writing), but I did have the privilege of spending a couple of hours with his wife Kay when she spoke at a conference we hosted a few years ago. What always strikes me when I meet these 'famous' Christians is that although they are amazing people with ministries which have touched the lives of millions of people, they are also very real people who face the same same struggles and heartbreaks as the rest of us. Kay was no different, and my heart so goes out to her, to Rick and the whole of their family at this time. Please join me in praying for them, and also for other families in our community who have lost children and will understand what the Warrens are going through in a way I can only begin to imagine.

Two other things have been on my mind since all this happened. First of all the reality of people living with mental health issues, and what that means for them and those seeking to support them. Sadly the church has often been one of the last places where you would want to be open about struggling with your mental health, with a suspicion that this shouldn't happen to Christians, that you must be demonised or in some other way a sub standard Christian. We must break that, and make the church a safe place to be honest and open about our struggles, and of those close to us. I applaud those heroes in Kerith who keep going whilst living with all sorts of mental health illnesses. We have so much to learn, but part of us being a peachy community is being willing to learn about how to love, help and pray for people and their families - let us all continue on that journey with a renewed compassion and sense of purpose.

Secondly I've been deeply saddened by the Christians who have seen this as an opportunity to attack the Warrens. I don't have words to express what I feel about people who claim to follow Jesus, yet because they disagree with something Rick has written or said, or how they perceive his theology or his church, would take a moment like this to say some unbelievably hurtful things about Rick and his family. I couldn't imagine a much better expression of a coconut community, people full of what they perceive to be truth but without an ounce of grace. With regard to this I'd encourage you to read two blogs by people I admire greatly, Beth Moore and Mark Driscoll, who have expressed all this far better than I could ever hope to. Please take a moment to read what they've written.

Finally let's remember that Jesus walks with us in all of this. I'm reminded of what I said on Easter Sunday, that after his resurrection Jesus went first to Mary Magdalene, to comfort her and minister to her in her sorrow and anguish - he still does the same today.

Simon.